Don’t know about you, but this is part of the whole DeRAnged series that I have been particularly looking forward to. Much like in RL. Yeah, I know, I know, you (and I) love hearing all about “yer man”, how great he is, how well he acts, his wit, his art,
his bum, how irresistible a package he provides. But he’s a bit of a one-way-street. Yeah, as in “once you turn in, there’s no going back” :-D. But also as in one-way communication. As a born communicator (see right, early 1970s), I need the exchange, the return, the interaction. Which is why the fandom, and my fellow fans, are so important to me, why I need them, and why I never shrink back from meeting them in person. In that respect this summer has been more than plentiful for RA’s well-wishers. Because not only did we get all the wit, art and bum package, but we got to meet and discover the person behind the internet handle and the avatar. Nowhere was the opportunity so great as on the day of “Richard Armitage in Conversation“. It was clear that many, many (mainly European based) fans would make their way to it, and so I was thrilled when I heard that people were going to gather before the event in the Pret-a-Manger on The Cut, and I organised my own meets and greets around that.
My day started with an early morning flight to London. No more luxury British Airways, back to Ryanairs cattle class :-(. My flight duly delayed, I was sweating even before my first scheduled fan meet was imminent. Finally touched down, I made my way as quickly as possible to Trafalgar Square where my
shrine fairy friend Helen was waiting for me at Lord Nelson’s feet. I was quite chuffed with myself when I exited Charing Cross tube station at *exactly* the stairways I had planned (I am sooooo familiar with London 😀 ), stepped onto the Square and immediately laid eyes on Helen who simultaneously recognised me although we had never met before. It was just great – we started babbling away, no need for introductions really, and after a couple of smokes in the sunshine we sauntered off towards The Strand Gallery to peruse Sarah Dunn’s “Wide Eyed” photography exhibition. The artist herself was there when we entered the exhibition, but engaged with a client/buyer, so we looked at the displayed art, only to discover that RA was sadly missing from the exhibited works. Or as Helen put it: “sadly lacking in real totty “LOL. On the up side I had a very long chat with Dunn’s photographer husband Marcus Doyle which reaffirmed my belief that photographers are just the nicest creative artists ever. (I’ll get to that in my review on “Wide Eyed”, eventually.) We had time for tea in London’s weirdest tea room (more like a take-away really) with the best cup of tea, and where we swapped gifts. Chatting chatting chatting with no stopping. What a great start into the whole day of fandom love, this bode well for everything else.
Because the day was so beautiful, we decided to walk the way from The Strand to The Cut (really, you’ve got to love London street names, don’t you?), and arrived at Caffe Nero beside “the Pret” where Ali of RAnet had announced she was
holding court 😉 meeting fellow fans. No sooner were we sitting down, the fan conglomeration started. We grabbed Linda60 who was swiftly walking towards the Pret, eyes firmly fixed on her entrée, so that I had to shout to get her attention, and nattered on. Meanwhile, next door, Ali was meeting with lots of ladies, too. Fellow Hobbit Premiere 2012 veteran Judit came out and sat with us. (Unfortunately she was feeling badly under the weather that day, so we never got a proper head-to-head.) Eventually I spotted a tall, tanned woman across the street who was excitedly waving – that was Kathy Jones all the way from California. She got rid of said bye-bye to her husband and joined us among whoops and cheers, and more exchanging of gifts. Oh, and another fellow fan, Lemonjapp, also joined us outside.
I had made a little something for Ali, in very poor recognition of her magnificent work for the wider public’s purpose of
adoring researching Richard Armitage, and went next door to give it to her and say hello to whoever she was meeting. I apologize to everyone who was there and to whom I undoubtedly must have looked rude and strange, only popping in and out and exchanging very few words with Ali and Sahraobsessed from the US. (If anyone reads this who was there – I am really sorry to have looked as if I was ignoring you, my mind was elsewhere, and I was too giddy to stay still.) Back outside and just before we were heading over to the Old Vic to attend the conversation event, lovely Wydville, a good friend of Judit’s, appeared and completely threw me with her lovely gift. You can see it here:
Isn’t that absolutely great? What a brilliant yet practical, useable souvenir of a wonderful occasion. I loved that the design she had made – a pic by Lefteris Pitarakis of the man himself, in the Old Vic where the convo was taking place – did not have RA’s name on it, but the conversation date and OV logo. Yeah, I admit, that’s partly because it is less embarrassing that way. You can use the bag and pretend it commemorates a high-brow, intellectual event for clued-in theatre-goers. (“You know, I was only there because the Old Vic puts on such splendid, insightful events. I can’t even remember the guy’s name. Some bearded fellow. Robert Hermitage or something?” Me, a fangirl? Nah!!!!! ;-)) So thank you so much, Wydville. It was lovely to meet you and I wished we could have chatted more. You were so kind to me!!!
The conversation event split us all up – and it is regretful indeed that we, as a group of active fans who are widely connected across borders and oceans, languages and nationalities did not have a secret handshake or other sign to discreetly show each other that we were part of the exclusive club of international RA
fangirls well-wishers. There is a distinct need for a unobtrusive sign that will signal to like-minded souls that we are open to meeting fellow deRAnged souls while not having to wear Armitage’s name plastered across our boobs. I wish Hedgehogess had prompted me before the event and I had rustled up a little badge like the one on the right… So while we were in the theatre for the conversation I had no idea who else was there whom I might possibly know. What a shame!
After an extremely short 45 minutes we reconvened outside after the event. I probably also missed a lot of people due to my nasty habit of smoking – which took me to the Waterloo Rd side of the theatre, out of sight of a lot of people. While Helen had to leave to catch her train home, my little group comprising Kathy, Linda60 and Lemonjapp picked up a newly converted RA fan, a Londoner called Sarah. She had stood beside our group outside the theatre, and when she heard our unabashed gushing about the event, she plucked up the courage to talk to us. The five of us eventually decided to go for a bite to eat and finished the evening in a burger joint on The Cut, chatting and laughing and flirting with an extremely cute and cheeky Dutch-American waiter about five decades our junior… Exhausted by the many impressions of the day I took the tube home to my hosts at 9pm.
The next day I met Linda60 spontaneously for lunch and then attempted to connect with Kathy before we had tickets for the evening performance of TC, but missed her. Instead, while sitting in my London front room aka Caffe Nero, I hooked up with my tumblr friend Mrsjohnstandring whom I had told I’d be waiting there for her. She had just watched the matinée and was completely under the influence when she popped by to say hello. To say we had a blast, is understatement. What a lovely, bubbly girl. She actually gifted me with her freshly purchased but now unneeded programme of TC. It was great to meet her and more than natural to embrace her like all the other ex-strangers whom I had met over the course of these two days. Great to have met you, J___! So glad we hooked up, and sorry we had to say good-bye so hurriedly!
The prize for the funniest fan encounter, however, goes to someone else. This story made me laugh all the way. For that evening’s performance I had tickets in the stalls, G 18, actually, while Kathy sat with her husband a row behind me (and with much better view, I have been told. Those second row seats were *crap*, Old Vic!!! >( ) Shortly before the play started, a young woman sat down to my right. Upon seeing my programme on my lap, she asked me where she could buy it. I detected a foreign accent which sounded romance to me, but I didn’t properly look at her while explaining how she could obtain the programme from one of the ushers. The play started and we were mesmerized. During the break I hooked up with Kathy and Linda60 who had to humour me while smoking outside again. As I was taking my seat after the interval, I noticed that the young woman beside me was chatting with a companion in what definitely sounded like Germanic tones to me. I could not hear what they said, but it sounded German. So when her companion went back to her own seat, I asked my neighbour “Did I just hear you speak German?” She looked at me surprised, and said yes. Suddenly she looked familiar to me, and I said, switching to German “Have we met before? Are you…?” And she butted in “Yes, yes, your voice is familiar…” I said “Did we meet at the Berlin Premiere? Are you Richiecrispie?” “Are you Guylty?” And we both broke into laughter. What are the chances??? Out of a hundred performances, we attended the same one and even had seats next to a fellow fan whom we had met before… Oh, how I love the universe!!
The SD that evening was the first of the big good-byes in many respects. I was there with Kathy and Linda60, and afterwards we all toddled on to the tube station for our way home. Instead of long good-byes, Kathy and I just hugged and jumped on our trains. I said farewell to Linda60 on the tube.
And that was it. What an enriching experience! I loved meeting every single one of you, and no matter how different our ages, situations in life and outlooks may be, we have this unique and easy starting point to launch us into contact and friendship. How cool is that? Doesn’t that make up for the occasional ridicule we suffer as “fanatics” or the constant inner reevaluation and justification of our decision to be active within the fandom? Thank you to all the lovely ladies who made this short trip to London the occasion of a lifetime. Thanks to Helen for organising the tickets and being a fabulous art exhibition companion, to Kathy for coming all the way, bearing gifts (and from Mimi, as well), to Linda for entertaining me on Wednesday, to Mrsjohnstandring for the bubbly interlude before the play, to Ali for having alerted me of the inofficial fan meet on Tuesday, to Judit, Sahraobsessed, Lemonjapp, Richiecrispie for humouring me. If anyone wants to meet up at any future event, I’ll be there. Because it is fun and because the aforementioned ladies made it so! But to be on the safe side, I’ll be wearing my badge so you can find me!
Love – Guylty ❤ xx
By the way – I travelled light to London. When I arrived on Tuesday, all I had with me was my camera bag, taken mostly up with Marky Mark and a dress, a nighty, two pairs of pants and a spare pair of socks stuffed in. By Thursday my luggage had doubled in size. Thank you for your generosity. You are stars!